L.B. Loop Bus Stopped
Looking at the Long Beach Loop’s demise, chatting with Repeater producer Ross Robinson

Ever since I first heard about the Long Beach Loop, I wanted to check it out. It was an event that sounded genuinely fun, with a double-decker bus taking folks between beloved L.B. spots Alex’s Bar, the Pike and the Prospector. Each hosted concerts, with sets timed to correspond with bus stops. Music and a bus—a double-decker, no less? Come on. That’s pretty nifty.

The first event, in September 2008, attracted such noted area acts as the Valley Arena, Greater California and Free Moral Agents. There were also DJs—including DJ Oldboy, the Thursday-night resident at Avalon in Costa Mesa—at the venues as well as aboard the bus. And the whole thing cost only $10, which included admittance to each venue. Subsequent events hosted the likes of Mike Watt and the Secondmen and Tijuana Panthers. Yet, somehow, I was never able to make a Long Beach Loop, with the cruel hand of fate somehow causing me to be unavailable the first Thursday of the month several months in a row.

Now it looks like I won’t get the chance. I recently checked online to see what was coming up for the event and was dismayed to see that their MySpace page hadn’t been logged into since Feb. 9, last listing information for that month’s event. Suspicious. The MySpace for Big Red Bus, the double-decker-bus service used during the events, hasn’t been logged into since even earlier—Dec. 9. Various conspiracy theories flew through my head: Did the city shut them down? Was there some sort of falling-out between the venues and Big Red Bus? Did the bus come alive and start killing people, à la Maximum Overdrive?

After a bit of calling around, I was able to get in touch with Jackie Ojeda, talent buyer at Alex’s Bar (see Rex Reason’s “Multitasking Madwoman,” April 9, 2008) and one of the main organizational forces behind the event. Turns out, the reasons behind the Long Beach Loop fading away were depressingly straight-forward.

“The reason that the Long Beach Loop is on a hiatus is because, with the economy not doing so hot, the turnout for the night has been pretty dismal,” Ojeda wrote, via e-mail. “The February and March Loops had such a poor turnout that both Alex’s Bar and the Prospector had to pay for the bus out of their own pockets.”

Ojeda isn’t just blaming the economy, though. While noting that it’s an idea the venues might revisit in the future, she says it might have simply run its course—the first few Loops were total successes with healthy turn-outs.

“Long Beach is kind of a hard town,” Ojeda said during a follow-up phone call. “You have to make something fresh and exciting. It was just getting to the point where a lot of people had already done it.”

The concept will be revisited with Fidotrust Fest ’09 (Ojeda co-operates the Fidotrust Records label) on Aug. 22, for which two Big Red Buses will connect four venues—Alex’s, the Prospector, the Cellar and one more to be announced—hosting 20 bands.

REPEATER’S SUCCESS BEARS REPEATING
Last week’s column looked at Long Beach band Repeater, who were plucked from obscurity by producer Ross Robinson (whose credits include Korn’s first two albums, Relationship of Command by At the Drive-In and the Cure’s 2004 self-titled album) to record at his home studio. Thing is, I didn’t actually get a chance to talk to Robinson by deadline, which sort of left a gaping hole in the article. Like, uh, what was it about Repeater that prompted him to choose them to be the first band in his White Label Collective project?

“When a singer gives at a level of complete disregard for embarrassment or criticism or any of that, it really hits me and opens me up,” Robinson says of Repeater, specifically lead singer/guitarist/main songwriter Steve Krolikowski. “I’m very attracted to that. When somebody is able to open up and express themselves at that deep of a level, then it changes music.”

Robinson says that he knew he wanted to work with Repeater upon getting a friend request from them on MySpace.

“It hits me instantly,” Robinson says. “It’s not necessarily my ears; it’s a feeling inside of me that hears it.

“It was really sweet because the day was a good day, and after hearing just the music, it was a great day. Knowing what it could be, it just felt good.”

So far, his instincts in this situation have paid off, as both the band and Robinson sound very pleased about their current arrangement. “With these guys, I really enjoy it because they’re so open to anything,” he says. “It’s not like I’m saying, ‘Do this, or do that’ at all. They’re just really into digging into their thoughts or dreams—it’s really cool.”

Though both parties talk about pushing Repeater’s music to places it hasn’t been before, Robinson makes it clear he’s not just scrapping their prior sound. “I really, really liked what they did before,” he says. “I thought the production was really clean. It was sonically pleasing. The only thing is that they didn’t really have enough time for the songs to separate. I think, my purpose, my main goal on this one is to make sure that each song becomes its own life form, so it doesn’t become just one big song across an album.”

aching@ocweekly.com

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